Judge: No Bail for Airline Worker After 'Disconcerting' Find

Prosecutors say mechanic who allegedly tampered with plane may have ties to terrorists
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2019 8:30 AM CDT
Judge: 'Disconcerting' Find About Accused AA Mechanic
This July 17, 2019, file photo shows American Airlines planes at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

After American Airlines mechanic Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani was arrested earlier this month and accused of tampering with the navigation system of a plane he'd worked on in July at Miami International Airport, he admitted he'd done so. But he told investigators it was done out of a desire to hopefully get overtime work fixing the Boeing 737. On Wednesday, however, US Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley denied the 60-year-old bail, citing what she says was a "disconcerting" find: evidence that Alani "may be very sympathetic to terrorists," per the New York Times. Prosecutors say that evidence includes video from his cellphone that showed mass murders being carried out by ISIS, statements Alani made in which he hoped Allah would hurt "non-Muslims," and a brother in Iraq who may be tied to ISIS, per the AP.

Alani is also accused of wiring $700 to Iraq and not mentioning to investigators after his arrest that he'd traveled there earlier this year. Then there's what he told the FBI, per Assistant US Attorney Maria Medetis: "Out of my evil side, I wanted to do something." Alani's attorney's response, per the Miami Herald: "We don't believe he intentionally endangered the safety of people. I think the government is blowing this out of proportion." Alani—a naturalized US citizen—had worked as an airline mechanic for 30 years and had no prior criminal record. He's now no longer working for AA and has had his mechanic certificate revoked by the FAA. If he's convicted on charges of willfully damaging, destroying, or disabling an aircraft, he could see 20 years in prison. (Read more American Airlines stories.)

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